Alba is a relatively new bike brand in the market, specialising in electric folding bikes. It will come as no surprise that the Fold X is an electric folding bike.
The Fold X has a 6061 aluminium step-through frame that folds in the centre. Like other folding bikes, it has a single down tube without any cross tube. This makes it easy to get on and off, although the additional reinforcement in the single tube adds to the weight.
In addition to the main hinge in the centre of the frame, the folding element also includes the ability to fold down the handlebars to make it smaller when it folds down. The bars can also be adjusted in terms of both angle and height, which allows the frame to be usable by people of practically any height.
The bike comes with a 1x8 chainset with a 13-32 rear cassette and a 52-tooth ProWheel crankset. Alba has used Shimano’s Altus RD-M310 rear derailleur combined with a Shimano thumb shifter and these do a fairly decent job of keeping shifting crisp and quick - although one thing to note is that it isn’t great at dealing with big bumps and I found it occasionally threw the chain when going off a kerb, which was a bit annoying.
There are some really good practical elements on the bike. It comes with front and rear mud guards as standard in addition to a really useful rear rack.
The Fold X features Kenda K924 e-bike tyres, which are thick, robust and gripped pretty well. It also uses 20 inch rims with a tight spoke pattern. This means that the wheels are pretty bomb proof - although it makes it difficult to lock it up as you cannot fit a decent D-Lock through them. This is problematic as given the 23kg weight of the bike and the fact that when folded it is still 88 x 44 x 73cm, it’s not a bike you can carry with you around the shops. (To provide some context, the heaviest bike in our guide to the best folding e-bikes is 21.9kg.)
Alba have used a set of Tektro mechanical disc brakes. They do the job of slowing you down fairly well, but they are very grabby. I live on top of a fairly steep hill and it isn’t a great feeling when the bike is shuddering under braking when descending.
In terms of the ‘extras’ such as the lights, these worked well, although there are some question marks around the finishing. For instance, when I went to fold up the box it came in, a small piece of metal fell out, which was the head badge. It had fallen off as it had just been stuck on with some glue. Similarly, the dust cover for the charging port came off completely when I went to charge it for the first time.
Alba have included a nice colour display which shows your speed, distance covered, assist level, and current battery level. It is crisp and easy to read whilst also being simple to control via a three-button configuration. The lights are turned on and off through the unit too. The only thing some may take issue with is that when turned off it automatically resets the assist level to the lowest, which for a bike that weighs this much isn’t ideal.
The Bafang 250W 32Nm rear hub motor gives you a decent amount of oomph and I never really found that I would break a sweat whilst using it, even on warmer days.
Range and power assistance
The Fold X has five levels of power assistance, although I found that due to the weight anything below a 4 meant that you could go a maximum of 10mph unless you really wanted to get a sweat on. Switching between them is easily done through the display mounted on the handlebars.
Due to the weight, the bike was almost impossible to ride without any power assistance and I could also really feel it as soon as I went over 15.5mph, even with the speed already up.
This naturally impacted the range. My ride to work is 12km and is downhill then flat on the way in, so I would arrive with roughly 60 per cent battery remaining. However, on my way back, I found that this had drained to below 20 per cent before I had hit anything hilly. This then meant having to do some drastic battery management just to get home. So although it is probably true that you could eke out 30-50km, it would need to be on a minimal assist level and on the flat. For general riding, using full assist, I wouldn’t risk anything longer than 20.
This range is a little disappointing as it meant that I found myself needing to charge the battery at work, which is not ideal.
Luckily charging the battery is simple as the 36V frame-mounted battery is simple to either charge in the frame or it can be removed via the lock on the side of the frame. I found that I could charge the battery to full in around two hours, which is fairly good.
The battery and charging doesn’t offer a huge amount of feedback, so the first time I plugged it in, I had no way of knowing whether or not it was actually charging. Normally I would expect some kind of flashing LED or the screen to show some kind of charging icon, but there isn’t anything. The battery itself has an LED that shows green, amber or red but this requires you to press a button to see the level.
The bike also has a ‘walking’ setting which means that you can walk with it with a touch of assistance while doing so. I found this useful on my first ride home as it didn’t tend to draw a huge amount from the battery, so I could push it up some of the hills much more easily than with no assist at all.
Price and comparison
The Alba Fold X comes with a price tag of £1,599 which is fairly good if you’re looking for a daily runaround for short commutes.
That puts it in the same sort of price bracket as the Raleigh Stow-e-Way, which is about 3kg lighter, but with a smaller battery; and the MiRider One, a single-speed that again has a smaller battery, but is around 4kg lighter.
The Perry eHopper that Richard looked at last year is also the same price. Again, this is lighter, although it seems the motor isn’t as good.
In summary, this is a decent budget e-bike if you’re looking at flat and relatively short commutes and if you’re looking to store it inside. The folding may not be as small and practical as something like a Brompton for use on public transport or around the shops, but if you’re looking for an e-bike that's a bit easier to store then it does a fairly decent job.
There are elements that could be improved, like the finishing quality, the grabby brakes, and the difficulty in locking it up, but for this price there are always going to be some flaws.
The Alba Fold X is a little rough around the edges and heavy, but it is a decent bike for shorter, flatter commutes and it won’t break the bank.